FIA WEC COTA Resources
Porsche 1-2, but not comfortable
Porsche took another 1-2 finish at Circuit of the Americans, with the #2 of Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley crossing the line 2 tenths ahead of the #1 sister car. The #1 Porsche sacrificed the race victory for the second time, allowing the championship leading #2 to score maximum points. The #2 extends it’s points lead over the #8 Toyota to 51 points with 3 races remaining.
The performance advantage that Porsche enjoyed at the Nurburgring and Mexico was largely gone for COTA. When the green flag dropped, Toyota made it clear that the understated qualifying performance wasn’t representative of the race pace. On the opening lap, the #8 Toyota passed the #2 Porsche for second, and the #7 Toyota soon followed. In the early stages, it appeared that Toyota had the legs on the #2 Porsche and could hang onto the coattails of the #1.
The potential for a Toyota victory began to slip away as strategies unfolded. Despite keeping an extra set of fresh tyres from qualifying, Toyota slowly lost time throughout the race as strategies played out. The #8 of Buemi/Sarrazin/Nakajima finished third, 22 seconds behind, whilst the #7 of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez was fourth, 45 seconds down.
Toyota will be disappointed to miss out on a victory, but the relative performance to Porsche was an improvement. If they can find an extra few seconds over a race distance, they’ll start giving Porsche headaches as they will be unable to swap the #1 and #2 for points.
Signatech hold on to LMP2 victory, despite late race scare
Reigning LMP2 Champions, Signatech Alpine, took victory at COTA, catapulting the team into the LMP2 title fight. The #36 Alpine is just 28 points behind the points leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, with 3 races remaining.
Nicolas Lapierre made the biggest difference, pulling out a 40 second lead in both of his stints, giving his team mates plenty of breathing room for their runs. The only hiccup was a faulty rear light on their Oreca. The team made a late pit stop to change the rear deck, and smooth pit work kept the car in the lead.
The rest of the LMP2 field had troublesome races. The #13 Rebellion finished second, but was aided by a Safety Car. Silver driver, David Heinemeir Hansson accepting responsibility for the mid-race spins. The sister #31 Rebellion was third, with the championship leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca close behind in 4th.
Ferrari win despite puncture
James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi emerged victorious at COTA in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, despite a late race puncture. The Italian brought the car back at speed, and luckily the tyre didn’t cause too much damage to the 488. He emerged from the pit lane and was immediately attacked by Michael Christensen’s Porsche. The Ferrari fought off the Porsche and pulled a 5 second gap by the finish.
#71 Ferrari rounded off the podium behind the #92 Porsche, with #95 and then #97 Aston Martins 4th and 5th. Despite the strong qualifying, Ford continued to struggle for race pace, with both cars rooted to the bottom of the classifications. The automatic BoP process may not be producing the desired results.
Aston Martin win GTE-Am
Aston Martin won the GTE-Am class, with a comfortable 50 second gap to the #61 Clearwater Racing and #54 Spirit of the race Ferraris. Despite carrying damage to the diffuser, caused by contact with Sawa in the #61 Ferrari, the Aston was the class of the race.
The two Porsche 911 RSRs struggled. The #77 Dempsey – Proton Racing entry suffered mechanical issues, and the #86 Gulf Racing UK car retired after sustaining rear end damage after a high-speed spin at the hairpin.